Under construction 11/1/2019
1975 – 1980
My name is Jack. I have been fascinated with Houdini & Hardeen and Magic and Escapes for most of my life.
It all started when I was 9 years old. Doug Henning performed Houdini’s Water Torture Cell escape on his “World of Magic Special” on NBC. The following year I got my first magic book “The Mickey Mouse Magic Book” (Which I still have) for my birthday. I wrote in it “My first magic book”. I was obsessed with Magic. My mother would take me to the library and I would come home with piles of books on magic.
My father owned a Betamax Video Recorder. He loved to tape old movies by the Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor, Abbot and Costello etc. I grew up watching all of those classic movies. I think I watched more black and white TV than color during those years. One day he told me they were playing a Houdini movie late that night and he would tape it for me. I got up at the crack of dawn the next morning and sneaked downstairs to our family room. I rewound the tape and started the movie. It was the 1953 Film “Houdini” staring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Sitting there in my PJ’s I watched the movie while my family slept. I was memorized by Houdini and I fell in love with Bessie. Near the end of the film Houdini was about to perform the Water Torture Cell, the escape that Doug Henning had recreated. Bess is frantic! Houdini is in the stocks and they drop him into the Cell and he can’t get out and suddenly….bshhhhhhhhhhhhh white noise! What! my Dad set the timer to stop the tape to soon and it cut off the ending of the film. “What happened? Did Houdini die or did he get out?”. I almost lost my mind. I had to find out how it ended!
A book yea I’ll get a book about Houdini so I can figure out what happened I thought. My mother took me to the Library. I found a book about the life of Houdini. I stayed up many nights using a flashlight under my blankets reading that book. The heat from the flashlight caused me to sweat but I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to skip to the ending to find out what happened, but I also enjoyed the suspense so I didn’t. Reading the stories made me feel as though I belonged in his time in the past. As though I once knew him and I was reading a book about an old friend that I missed very much. I felt a true connection to Houdini that I could not explain. I think that’s why I have such an interest in his little brother Hardeen. Maybe I wanted to be Houdini’s little brother I don’t know for sure.
Over the next 4 or 5 years my interest in Houdini, Magic and Escapes grew. One night I sneaked down to the family room and turned on our UHF box to see what was playing. There was a black and white silent film running. It was a Niagara Falls scene. I had the most intense deju vu feeling I have ever experienced. As watched I just knew I was about to see Houdini and suddenly there he was on My TV! At that time I had absolutely no knowledge of him making movies. It was as though I had seen the movie before but I had not!
Below are some pictures of me as a kid. I put Houdini and Hardeen together and called myself “Hardini”. I joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the local chapter of the Society Of American Magicians (SAM). I started performing for Kids parties and other events. I talked my parents into buying me a regulation straitjacket from a medical supplier.
More to come…